A more nutritious LinkedIn
It amused me to see that the political meme wars have come to LinkedIn. BuzzFeed News reports
that the crackdown on hate speech on Twitter and Facebook has led fans of Trumpist content to the Microsoft-owned professional social network.
“Facebook banned me, they hate me. But that’s all good — I started posting on LinkedIn and everybody is following me,” said one Trump supporter.
The news will come as no surprise to those who have long seen 90% of content on LinkedIn as absolute trash.
Far too many perfectly well-adjusted, professional and knowledgable people turn into ‘Apprentice’ contestants when they log into LinkedIn. Recycled life advice, self-promotion, and clichéd business platitudes are the order of the day. For all the criticism Twitter and Facebook receive, I get far more value from their feeds than I do from LinkedIn.
That’s not to say that LinkedIn has no value. As a way of keeping updated on people’s careers and researching staff at companies you need to contact, it’s invaluable (I’ve been a paying LinkedIn user for years). And there are some very useful blog posts on LinkedIn – if you can find them. Seriously, why are a user’s blog posts not prominently displayed on their profile?
The Series feature it’s testing at the moment with a small number of writers (including me
) solves this problem by allowing users to subscribe to a themed collection of posts, but that could be months away from rolling out to everyone, if it rolls out at all.
The main problem with LinkedIn, as with other social networks, is that it’s optimised for engagement. The trashy, easy to create and consume content gets lots of likes and shares, so LinkedIn shows lots of it to its users. Many people who post that stuff are only doing so in order to increase their following and thus become more 'influential.’ But if you only post bad business memes, is your influence on LinkedIn worth anything?
I believe LinkedIn should take a step back, and think about 'nutrition.’ How can it provide true value to its users by genuinely helping them advance their careers and do better business? Just like Apple, Google, and Facebook are thinking more about 'time well spent’ with their products these days, Microsoft should consider what 'time well spent’ on LinkedIn looks like.
'The Apprentice’-grade business nonsense designed to get as many shares as possible while telling you little to nothing of value certainly doesn’t sound like time well spent to me.